A Storyteller’s Revision

As a young boy, I fell in love with Harry the Dirty Dog. After all, I hated baths, and the idea of burying the scrubber and running away had occurred to me countless times. In later years, I found comfort and familiarity in Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Frecklejuice. In Middle School came The Witch of Blackbird PondThe Scarlett Letter and every word ever written by the inimitable master of fright Edgar Allen Poe. It was at this time I wrote my first story. I’m not sure the title, but it involved a young boy, a baseball game, and overcoming a horrible ankle injury to win the championship. I’m not sure what happened to it, but regardless of how awful it likely was, I’ve never forgotten it. As a starting point, it was comfortable, familiar and hopeful. I don’t recall writing another story until I reached High School, a few years later, where a simple read of A Tale of Two Cities changed everything. It was fabulous. Breathtaking. Inspiring. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to craft stories that thrilled, captivated, and most certainly entertained. I wanted to be remembered, as I had remembered those that inspired me. So I began writing.

It went horribly for a long time. Not to say I was a horrible writer. Just that my dreams were not surpassing my reality. Fear and doubt intervened. The weight of adulthood crushed me. Bills mounted. My skill plateaued as I fought to survive, as I managed to write as time allowed, as I read intermittently, as I refused to let go despite the screeching gnaw within my brain. If I had the courage to brave reading my material from that day, I might wonder how it is the desire survived. The potential was there, however dormant, suffering from a lack of experience, and proper guidance. But I persisted. I kept writing. I met successful writers, whose wisdom and sage advice strengthened my voice, and my resolve. I set aside my love for Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in order to concentrate fully upon what I wanted to write, rather than my desire to fit in their mold. Anointed: The Passion of Timmy Christ, CEO was, and still is, a fine book. One I can be proud of. Flutter followed it nicely, though I still believe my mind set at that time left me a bit vulnerable within, too raw to maintain the tempo and cadence I wanted it to have.

Since then, I’ve been quiet. Not so much quiet in my every day existence, though I’ve had some moments, but rather quiet on the publishing front. Partly, this is due to circumstance. Partly because I insist on being the best writer I can be, reluctant to offer substandard material. I want to be read well, to sell in high volume, to be revered. But I never want to be Dan Brown, James Patterson, or God forbid, Stephanie Meyer. I want to be Judy Blume, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens, and so on. I still want the same thing fourteen-year old me wanted: to be remembered as one of the greats.

And though that has as of yet materialized, the blessing of the writing life is there are no restrictions of time. In fact, much as the apprentice must rise to the level of Master before being recognized for their skill, life has taken me on a tour, an education I may not have asked for but have greatly appreciated. It has granted me the chance to learn, to improve, to better myself as an artist as well as a person.

Most importantly, it brought me Oliver Miles.

It gave me a glimpse of the boy I was, of the countless stories that inspired me, of the many hours I dreamed of what it would be like to walk the worlds within the pages that so fascinated me. Of what it would be like to be the hero. And when The Storyteller spoke, he did so easily, with great intent, with a yearning need to heard, with the voice of a child who longed to matter.

In the Beginning there was a boy, who very much belonged to the books that he loved.

In the beginning there was a boy, who very much belonged to the books that he loved.

He gave me something to believe in. Something special.

And the journey of fourteen-year old Oliver Miles began, precisely where my love for writing was born: In the pages of his favorite books. His passion, however, rest squarely within the five-book series, The Damon Grell Chronicles, a collection he read countless times, arriving at the final chapter of the final book with the same unshakable sense of frustration and disappointment.

“‘Infusco!”’ The light shrouding the figure became heavy and fell, dull waves of warmth tattered to thin wisps by cold shadow.  Silence embraced the chamber, expanded into the growing darkness, and broke in a grinding shift of granite upon granite.  The coffin fell open, its lid split in two upon the sandy floor, the shadows alive, swirling, absorbing all light, taking form, and Damon Grell rose once more.”

After all, Damon Grell didn’t simply fail in his final showdown with the dark Lord Ahriman. He died. And, as if the pain of that loss alone didn’t suffice, Damon was then resurrected by a shadowy figure at the story’s end, leaving the world of Elysium without a true hero, and Oliver without a sense of resolution. Though Damon has been raised, there’s no way to ensure his state of mind, or abilities. Without Damon, Lord Ahriman would rule over all. Without a proper hero, Elysium would fall. Little could Oliver have known that Elysium had indeed found its hero, and that he, Oliver Miles, was the one it had chosen. Drawn into Elysium by the mysterious Storyteller, Oliver finds a world more real, more deadly than he could have dreamed. A world where the magic of words and the future hope of Elysium lead him into a race to find the resurrected Damon Grell before the Shadowheart—the most powerful form of magic known in Elysium—can fall into the hands of a rising darkness that threatens to destroy the world.

I am possessed by this story, and the subsequent four that round it out. So much so that I find the need for it to be perfect. To honor the story fully. I’ve worked on it for years, completely rewriting it several times, most recently last Fall. I have so much back story, I could effectively write The Damon Grell Chronicles as well as the origin story of the individual who would ultimately be known as the Storyteller. I could spend the rest of my life delving into the many side stories and companion pieces had I the opportunity. Perhaps I will. It would be a tremendous thrill to be afforded the opportunity to do so.

As an artist, I am compelled to believe in my work. To believe in its value, its credibility. To raise it above my head and proclaim it special in ways no other work could proclaim. And so I shall. However, I do so with a sense of awe and wonderment over the feeling this tale leaves me. I do so curious over what plan the Storyteller put in effect upon handing me the details of Oliver’s journey. I do so more confident than I’ve ever been that I’ve honored the wish of a fourteen-year old boy who longed to have a voice in the literary world that truly mattered. And soon–hopefully quite soon–you will understand why.

The Golden Ticket

One day does not a year make.

But, doesn’t it?

I had intended on writing a blog today about the maddening mess of mental malady that was my 2013. It was awful. Nothing seemed to go right. Plans were not merely rerouted, but torn to shreds by this monstrosity of a year. Short of 2009, which saw the close of my beloved Wordsmiths Books (as well as another unmentionable dissolution), there has been no other year spurning more depression and anxiety than 2013.

Then today happened.

Can one day really undo the damage the preceding 364 brought?

This once, I can say undoubtedly so. After all, being lost in a desert might be a continual trek through despair, misery, and pain; a plodding journey toward inevitability. Yet, find your way free and wouldn’t the memory of it all seem somewhat diluted? You survived, right? That has to cast some light upon the shadow of your anguish.

My light arrived by way of the Georgia Center for the Book. I am pleased to say that, as of January 6th, 2014, I will assume the post of GCB  Assistant to the Executive Director. I’m not sure if that’s the official title, but it sounds Schrutian (Schrute-ian?) enough for me, so I’ll go with it. If I can walk around screaming, “Michael!” then they can call me whatever they want. Regardless, I’m beyond excited to be joining this organization. As a writer, as a reader, as an individual who longs to see a greater emphasis on literacy, this is the job I have longed for. This is the place I belong. Additionally, it places the Moss and I back in Decatur, a city we have missed quite dearly in the year we’ve been away.

What is the Georgia Center for the Book, you may wonder? There’s a lengthy description here, but to summarize, here is a list of the Center’s Activities:

Sponsoring over 100 programs each year bringing authors from around the nation and the state for free year-round public appearances.

Sponsoring the 2012 Georgia Literary Festival November 9-10 at Jekyll Island.

Sponsoring state student literary competitions in two national programs,Letters About Literature and River of Words

Developing programs to take nationally known authors to libraries around Georgia with a “We the People” grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through the Georgia Humanities Council. The first “We the People” program was successfully held at Young Harris on January 29, 2007.

Co-sponsoring major state literary awards including the Townsend Prize and the Lillian Smith Award.

Georgia Center for the Book

It doesn’t fully encapsulate the enormity of the organization’s purpose or impact, but it offers a nice glimpse into their reach. I look forward to assisting them in their work, helping to generate further awareness, and joining with the GCB Executive Director, Joe Davich, in expanding and evolving its reach.

This is not Joe Davich. But it really is.

This is not Joe Davich. But it really is.

2014 seems to be opening with a bang, offering an array of possibility, leaving the memory of 2013 as but an exercise in endurance. A period of brutal pain and misery, suffering and depression, yes, but also of survival, of resilience, and of the rewards that come from a refusal to lay down against the weight of it all.

This is no way detracts from my writing, or from my desire to reach as many readers as is possible. Book One of The Storyteller is still moving forward, the reissues of Anointed and Flutter are in the pipeline, and the initial response to my current manuscript, Specimen A, is glowing. 2014 is, indeed, lining up nicely, and I more than look forward to the adventures it will offer.

The Storyteller: The Heart of Darkness–First Chapter Preview

There’s still some road left to walk in getting The Storyteller: The Heart of Darkness into your hands, but in the meantime I thought I would offer a glimpse into the project. It’s a story I’ve been developing/writing for more than seven years and I have a mountain of notes to prove it. All told, it will be five books in length, with the adventure and mystery deepening and darkening as you journey forward with our protagonist, Oliver Miles. It isn’t simply a story, though. It’s not just a collection of words on a page, guiding you forward. As The Storyteller himself will tell you, this story is alive. And it’s been waiting for you.

Here’s the briefest of brief rundowns of what awaits you:

Sixteen-year-old Oliver Miles is not just a fan of The Damon Grell Chronicles, he is also about to become the last hero of the world in which the series of books takes place.  Drawn into Elysium, Oliver must navigate through a world both familiar and unfamiliar—where magic is hidden in books, where life is born one word at a time, where the secret of his birth and the path to his future rest in a powerful darkness that threatens the world, and where he must find the answer to the one question that might save them all: Who is the Storyteller?

The Storyteller is watching you...

This links to a Word document, so if you don’t have that, it won’t download.

Click here to read the first chapter.

 

 

Catching Up on the Writering

So Kate Gosselin is “freaking out “ over her show being cancelled.

I really don’t care.  I just couldn’t come up with an intro.

Although, seriously?  She’s upset because her career has been derailed?  Watch the video.  It’s amazing how much she sounds like…well, like Kate Gosselin.  Woman’s nuttier than a can of almonds.

It’s been some time since life has allowed me the time and energy to focus on writing, as well as the myriad other projects I want to work on.  Now that I’ve left my post at The Corner Bookstore, I’m going to dive headlong into the wordy pool and see what comes of it.  The primary objective right now is to finish Book 1 in The Storyteller series, which is tentatively called The Heart of Darkness.  I should, all things being equal, complete that manuscript some time in October (preferably before I head to Richmond, Va for The James River Writers Confererence).

As I manage that daunting task, I mean to pick up the pieces of the abandoned Bookstore series of videos (newest one below) and continue building a platform with which to turn my bizzaro experiences as a bookseller into a television pilot.  Think Arrested Development meets The Office and you’ll get a decent idea. Something that allows for a good bit of insanity but is more character driven than built around the location. I hope to have a new video up every Wednesday.

Additionally, I’ll have a few posts to add to The Adventures of Ducky Thomas, including his long overdue story of traveling to New York City.  That post, for what it’s worth will be called The Massive Warship, and has an awful lot to do with his visit to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The hope with Ducky is to translate his adventures into chapter books. I think the world needs stories about an adventurous duck. Ducky agrees.

Now that Flutter is out and selling, I will be returning again to the world of Timothy Webb and telling what may, or may not, be the final book in that series. I’m rather fond of Timothy and Natasha, so I may violate ever known rule of writing just to hang on to them. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, The Christ Corporation Series has a Facebook page. Like it. I’ll be posting updates there.

Finally, staring me in the face with the depth and deadness of a salivating zombie is a story that takes the traditional Zombie Apocalypse for rocking ride where it’s never been before. Not sure yet if I want to write the novel or the screenplay, but as I have information to offer, I’ll be tossing it up here on the blog.

…of which I will be visiting more often. Obviously, right?

So with nothing in my way but myself, all of these projects will be complete or underway within the next six months.  I’m piling it on and looking forward to what comes of it.

Oh, and in the near future I’ll be looking for you to determine what absolutely ridiculous show I show blog about on a regular basis. That one is wide open.  Anything from Springer to Gossip Girl, from The View to 90210. It’s not my call. It’s yours. I’m not sure who I hope to entertain more with that, but I’m quite positive it will be me.

That said, here’s the latest in The Bookstore series, called Potter is Hotter. Time to decide between Cullen and Potter. And pretty dresses.

In absentia

I’ve been away.  Maybe you’ve noticed.  Maybe you haven’t.  Maybe you cared.  Maybe you didn’t.  Maybe I know that I should have written something on here since MY last blog, but then again, maybe I don’t.  Maybe I haven’t had anything to say.

Maybe I should stop this maybe train of retardation and write something worth reading.

Ok.  Right.

I’ll be in NYC for events on June 22nd and 23rd.  I’ll post the event details here and on MY Anointed Facebook Fan Page in the next day or so.  I’d be more specific, but I’m a bit smidgy right now, and I’m not even sure what that means.  Once I figure that out, then I can move on to the details of MY events.  I know they are both at the Tank, in the Theater District, off 45th street, and that they are pretty cool pairings.  I also know that I’m geeked about getting back to New York, and that I’ll be there on MY birthday, which may not really enhance the moment, but is still cool all the same.

I’ve been working steadily on both the follow up to Anointed (working title of Angelic Malcontents), and also the first book in a young adult fantasy series, the title of which is The Storyteller, though I’ve yet to subtitle it.  There will be 5 books in that series, each with The Storyteller title, followed by a book-specific subtitle.  I’m very happy with the progress on it (I scrapped 50ish pages and have rewritten almost all of them, now), and I look forward to blitzing through to the end, and then finding a home for it.  Which I will.  I think it’s an appealing story, to be honest.  At some point, I’ll post some more info on it, but well…truly, right now I’m blitzed.  Or smidgy.  One of them.  I’m something that isn’t totally coherent.  I’ve been helping MY good friend, Jim Mundy, this week at a chess camp he puts on each year.  20+ kids, 5 days, 6-7 hours a day.  Exhausting, and I didn’t even do the bulk of the work.  Been hard, squeezing in writing on a tenth of the brain power.

Oh, and if you happen to be interested in the timeline of Anointed, we reach an important date on Tuesday, June 9th.  That would be the day, within the world of the book, in which Billy Christ anoints Timothy Webb as his successor.  Despite the fact that it hasn’t developed the way I had hoped, or planned, I will still be following through with the Twitter switch over.  Billy will announce his retirement on Monday, spend the day reflecting on that, and then Timmy Christ will come in a few days later.  He’ll assume control of Billy’s twitter account, and I’ll be working to gain him a true following.  I plan on using his account more than I did for Billy–though in fairness to Billy, he has never truly embraced the technology at his disposal–and also hopping back on the TCC website and revisiting the blog, with Timmy in control.  Then we’ll all go for a six-week ride, as Timothy’s story unfolds.  I think, of all the things I have looked forward to with this project, these next six weeks may be at the top of the list.  Now, more than ever, the time to ruffle feathers has come.  I shall let (Timmy) Christ lead the way.

So, make sure to check in.  I’ll be tying all the sites and tools together in order to innundate everyone with what I’m doing.

But now I’m a bit smidgy and blitzed.  I shall sleep.

Here’s a video to entertain you, and make sure that this visit wasn’t entirely in vain.  Go.  Watch it.  Enjoy.  You’ll love it.